Steve Ballmer, Serena Williams Headline The Week In Sports
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Now, it's time for sports. Look, I don't like leading with Donald Sterling either, but there's news - or is there? Also, the Heat looked unbeatable on their way in to another NBA finals. The Blackhawks hold off the Kings, and the Rangers await the winner for all of this, plus, ice cream and pony rides. We're joined by Howard Bryant of ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine. Howard, thanks for being with us.
HOWARD BRYANT: Good morning, Scott. Don't make promises you can't keep. I have no pony and no ice cream.
SIMON: Oh, all right. Well, we got them into the tent anyway. Let me see if I can sum this up. Steve Ballmer thinks he's bought the LA Clippers for $2 billion. Shelly Sterling's lawyers say that a couple of doctors say her estranged husband, Donald, is mentally incapacitated. His lawyer says no, he's just a little frail, but he's still strong enough to sue the NBA for a billion dollars. Where does that leave us today?
BRYANT: Well, the one thing we can say for certain is that when this sale is complete, the Sterlings are going to walk away with $1.44 million in profit after $662 million in capital gains. So there's money changing hands here. It seems like you've got a deal taking place along parallel tracks. On the one hand, you've got the NBA trying to move this franchise to Steve Ballmer, but on the other, you still have to deal with this litigation with Donald Sterling.
Part of the agreement, which is where the confusion takes place, is that the agreement of the sale is supposed to prevent the Sterlings from suing the NBA. So, of course, what happens - Donald Sterling sues the NBA. So I think that there are - I think there's way too many loopholes here to feel confident that it's done. But it's obvious that the NBA is going to do everything it can to make sure that Donald - I don't think Donald Sterling's going to own the team, but we all knew that this was not going to be a clean process.
SIMON: Let's ask about some actual, you know, sporting content.
BRYANT: You mean like sports?
SIMON: Exactly - basketball and hockey. The Miami Heat beat the Indiana Pacers like a drum last night, a 25 point victory.
BRYANT: They sure did.
SIMON: They sure look unbeatable as they go into their fourth consecutive NBA Final.
BRYANT: Well, you know, Scott, we've been doing this for a couple years now. When it comes to the Miami Heat - and my attitude has always been the same -in the NBA, because you've only got ten guys on the court, best player wins. LeBron James is the best player, hands down. He is easily moving into the territory of one of the best players of all time and may end up being the best player of all time.
The Indiana Pacers, on the other hand, they - they did a lot of thuggish stuff, you know. They talked the talk all season long, but when it came time, they got the 1 seed, they had home court and still blew it. This is looking a lot like Michael Jordan Bulls and the Pat Riley Knicks. One is the hammer and one is the nail. And you go lose three times in a row - three years in a row, it's not a rivalry.
SIMON: Of course, I'm going to ask about the Hawks. Patrick Kane scored twice, including one of the prettiest shots under pressure I've ever seen with 3:45 left. The Chicago Blackhawks and the LA Kings are going to skate their decisive seventh game in Chicago. But these are two teams that notably win big games. Who do you give the nod here?
BRYANT: Well, I've got to give the nod to the defending champs. They've been on the canvas twice, and now they've got a game seven at home. They're going to come back from a 3-1 deficit, and I think they're going to the Stanley Cup to defend their championship. But, on the other hand, you've got Reed Doughty of the - I'm sorry, Drew Doughty of the Kings saying, no, no, no, we're going to win this game.
So I think it's going to be a fantastic game seven. I give the edge to the Blackhawks, naturally, because they are the defending champs and also for selfish reasons because the Blueshirts - the New York Rangers are waiting. And as an old-time hockey fan, as an original six two teams have been around since the '20s, the Blackhawks and the Rangers have never met in the Stanley Cup.
BRYANT: So I think that would be pretty fascinating. I'd like to see that.
SIMON: Did you see the cover on the New York Post when the Rangers got into the Stanley Cup - first time in 20 years? Forgive me, everyone.
BRYANT: What was it?
SIMON: It went, puck yeah.
BRYANT: Of course.
SIMON: Glad my pronunciation was on.
SIMON: Serena Williams knocked out of the French Open - few Americans are still left thought, right?
BRYANT: You get - Sloane Stephens is going into the fourth round again and Donald Young, who was ranked 200th in the world after being 38th is now - got a chance to do something. So don't give up on the Americans out in Paris even though we don't usually don't play well out there.
SIMON: Howard Bryant, thanks so much. Talk you soon.
BRYANT: Thank you.
SIMON: And you're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.